The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - December 2013
Season's Greetings

From The Editor

Although the month seemed to start off rather slowly, it picked up incredibly as the weeks wore on. There are therefore seven feature articles in this issue of the DAISY Planet, with topics ranging from new tool releases, to a new implementation of the DAISY Online Protocol, to two new or expanded DAISY Text-to-Speech services, a recent DAISY training course in Slovenia and more.

"Your Voice, Their World": Accessible Digital Library Project in India is about a new and promising project in India that should significantly increase the number of accessible books for students who have a visual disability. There is indeed a great deal of good news this month plus lots of information in the regular columns.

The article Developing Countries Lack Capacity To Take Advantage Of Marrakesh Treaty by Catherine Saez and published in Intellectual Property Watch on December 18 examines the criteria for authorized entities, the service provided in Canada by the CNIB Library, and, related challenges faced in developing countries. Dipendra Manocha, Developing Country Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium, describes these challenges which range from inadequate processes for registering beneficiaries, to an inability to maintain records of transactions showing who received the books and how many copies they received, to a lack of communication between publishers and the visually impaired communities, publishers' lack of awareness about the needs of people who are blind, and the issue of local language fonts and TTS. This article is at the top of my suggested reading list for this month.

Still on the topic of the Marrakesh Treaty, even though it was adopted in June this year, there are still issues to be addressed, and of course the Treaty has yet to be ratified. Although the focus of the current and coming WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meetings is not the Marrakesh Treaty, the WIPO secretariat will conduct parallel sessions on specific subjects intended to facilitate the implementation of that Treaty. At the SCCR meeting this week (December 16 - 20) that topic is Authorized Entities. Included in the set of documents for this meeting are the 6th and 7th Interim Reports of the Stakeholders' Platform. Both can be downloaded in Word and PDF formats in six languages on the WIPO website with the SCCR 26th Session Meeting Documents. For anyone following the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty and related activities, these two reports are a 'must read'. I was most pleased to find in the 7th report that World Blind Union (WBU) representatives attended the eighth meeting of the Stakeholders' Platform as observers. After the meeting which took place on November 18, the WBU indicated that they would join in the work of the Platform, with an emphasis on ensuring its compatibility with the Marrakesh Treaty and with a goal of working to end the global book famine.

The Nota Christmas card/comic is filled with information about what the organization has accomplished this year. Press "enter" when the link opens to the webpage for the audio to begin playing. The cartoon images are aligned with the audio. Thank you Nota for finding such a clever way to let everyone know what you have achieved in 2013!

We are planning to implement the change which many of you suggested would make the DAISY Planet more 'useable' in the January issue. Stay tuned!

The 'DAISY Story' is actually not a single, new 'story'. After considerable thought and keeping in mind how extremely busy many people are at this time of the year, I decided this month to share with you my 3 Favourite Stories published between 2007 the end of 2010. These were published years ago and deserve to be read and reread (as do all of the others). If you haven't yet read these stories from Michael Hingson, Jim Fruchterman, and Lars Sönnebo, I hope you will find time to do so as we move into another new year. I must confess that it has been incredibly difficult to pick just three.

Some truly wonderful and inspiring people have written their 'stories' for publication with the DAISY Planet this year. DAISY stories provide insight into the lives of people we might not otherwise have ever come to know. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your unique experiences.

I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed articles, provided suggestions and sent emails of support over the year. Your ongoing input helps me to provide our community with the information it needs to remain up to date on issues of importance and interest.

As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 will soon be upon us, I'd like to once again close the December DAISY Planet with what has become my 'standard' year-end message:

December is a time of reflection for some of us, a time when we are even more grateful for the love our families and friends share with us, a time when we open our hearts to others who may not be as fortunate as we are. It is a time for giving and for remembering those who are no longer with us or who are unable to be with us for whatever reason. I would like to send a special thank you and good wishes to each one of you.

Let us hope that in 2014 there are even greater advances in the efforts of our community, governments, and those in the publishing industry striving to make their publications accessible.

Lynn Leith
Editor

DAISY Marketplace

The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The DAISY Marketplace

Publishers' Corner

Moving Toward an Ebook Standard by Brandi Scardilli (posted December 19) looks at EPUB carefully but not in technical terms. It examines its adoption by publishers internationally, looks at the most recent updates, its strengths and weaknesses, and closes with positive predictions about EPUB 3 adoption within the next 6 months.

On Ebook Quality Assurance: Some Questions, Answered by Iris Febres posted on the Digital Book World website provides answers to questions she received during and following her recent webcast Ebook QA: Everything You Need to Know. In the Q&A Ms. Febres addresses questions such as "What is a 'universal' EPUB?", "When will EPUB 3 be fully adopted widespread? If I'm planning a 2014 release, should I gear everything toward EPUB 3?" and "Any thoughts on QA strategies for books with heavy use of foreign characters/accented characters?"

• A public and member review of several EPUB modular specifications is under way through January 15, 2014. The specifications, elevated by the IDPF Board to Public Draft status on December 12, include EPUB Previews, EPUB Multiple Renditions, and EPUB Region-Based Navigation and the related Magazine Structural Vocabulary. Additional information including email contact details for submission of comments to the working group co-chair is available on the IDPF website.

• IDPF Digital Book 2014 will take place May 28-29 at NYC Javits Center during BEA (BookExpo America). It is the longest-running digital publishing conference in the industry and this year it will cover two full days. Details about the conference and early-bird registration which is now open are available on the IDPF website/IDPF Digital Book 2014.

• Many of the presentations given at the IDPF technical seminar: "EPUB and the Open Web Platform for Publishers" are now available online. The event which took place on November 30 in the New Delhi area was attended by nearly 100 people; it was the first-ever IDPF seminar in India. The seminar was co-sponsored by W3C, the DAISY Consortium, the National Book Trust, India, and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP). All net proceeds from this event will benefit the DAISY Consortium. Some of the presentations which are available on the International Digital Publishing (IDPF) website are:
° Introduction to EPUB 3 (Bill McCoy, Executive Director, IDPF),
° Introduction to HTML for Publishers Nellie McKesson (Digital Development Director, O'Reilly) and
° Emerging HTML5 Authoring Solutions and Open Source Projects(Prashant Kumar Singh and S. Bhargava (Web Team, Adobe).

Obi 3.0 & Tobi 2.2 Releases: Implementing Features Prioritized by the DAISY Membership

The DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the release of Obi 3.0 and Tobi 2.2, implementing the first set of features prioritized by its member organizations. The Consortium is part of a wider community which is focused on worldwide inclusive publishing. The Obi-Tobi project is committed to contribute to the change while serving its member organizations in an even better way.

Prioritized Features

In early 2013 the Obi-Tobi team conducted a feature survey to determine the priorities and requirements of its member organizations. The Obi-Tobi project is moving forward in the direction suggested by DAISY Members, and the latest releases of Obi and Tobi present the first set of features captured in the survey. The priority features as identified in the survey are:

Obi

Tobi

Obi 3.0 Released: Numerous New Features & Enhancements

Obi logo Obi, the Consortium's open source 'DAISY audio with structure' production tool has made a mark at the grass root level. It has enabled accessible publishing worldwide, and is being used by more than 43 DAISY production centres and numerous individuals, making it one of the preferred DAISY production tools chosen by a diverse range of users. Obi outputs both DAISY 3 (officially, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86) and DAISY 2.02 content.

Obi 3.0 introduces highly demanded features such as "zoomed waveform view" and "project merge". It also includes enhancements that reduce the response time of the application, improve efficiency, and make Obi more convenient for the user. The salient features of this release are:

Finnish, French, Hindi and Tamil language packs for Obi are now available. Thanks go to Hannu Tiihonen (Finland), Association Valentin Haüy (a member of DAISY France), RSVI (a member of DAISY Forum of India) and Sreeja Param (USA) respectively for these translations.

Additional information about Obi and the download link are available from the DAISY website in the Obi Project area.

Tobi 2.2 Set for Release in late December

Tobi logo Tobi, the Consortium's open source full-text full-audio production tool, pioneered in the implementation of the complete DIAGRAM Content Model for image descriptions and is among the early tools for creating EPUB 3 Media Overlays. This program can create both DAISY 3 and EPUB 3 digital talking books, producing publications compliant with mainstream EPUB 3 specifications, as well as specialized, access-enhanced content.

Tobi 2.2 will provide the highly demanded feature, split-merge project, as well as improved capability to migrate DAISY 3 content to the EPUB 3 specification. The salient features of this release will be:

Tobi comes with a French language pack. Thanks go to Association Valentin Haüy and Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles for this translation.

Please watch for the Tobi 2.2 release announcement in News on the DAISY homepage, on the Tobi Forum and Tobi Project area, and also in the DAISY Twitter posts for the exact features list. Additional information about Tobi and the download link are available from the DAISY website in the Tobi Project area.

More to Come…

The Urakawa SDK (Software Development Kit) is the common backend of both Obi and Tobi, and is being improved (refactored) to support 'structure editing' of complex mark-up. The split-merge project is the first feature which benefits from the refactored backend, the SDK. In the coming year it will be extended to implement the 'structure editing' feature in Tobi. The basic framework for audio processing is also being implemented in the backend. This will be used for integrating audio processing filters in both Obi and Tobi in the future.

These most recent releases present the first set of features identified as priorities by DAISY Consortium Members via the Obi-Tobi survey; subsequent releases will include additional functionality.

The Obi-Tobi Project Charter for 2014-15 was approved by the DAISY Consortium Board of Directors at the Board Meeting in Beijing. The project roadmap is developed to contribute to the implementation of DAISY Consortium's strategy of inclusive publishing, and serve the Consortium's Members by addressing the priorities captured in the Obi-Tobi survey.

CNIB Launches "Direct to Player" Download Service

This article was submitted by Roger Beatty, Director, Library Information Systems for the CNIB Library. CNIB is the lead member of the Canadian DAISY Consortium which is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

CNIB National Logo The CNIB Library launched its 'Direct to Player' download service on December 3rd, 2013. This service uses the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol (DODP) to deliver DAISY books directly to clients' Internet-enabled players without the need for clients to use a computer, that is, with no computer in the delivery channel.

The CNIB Library started down this path during the winter of 2011/12. We were increasingly developing download options for users who have access to a computer, iPhone, Android, etc. and recognized that we needed a download solution for Library users who do not have access to these technologies, primarily our clients in their senior years, who represent between 50 and 75% of our user community.

Shinano Kenshi's DODP server software was installed and integrated with the Library's ILS (Integrated Library System), following a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The solution is 'player agnostic' in that it allows most Internet-capable players to be connected.

Last year, a pilot project with 100 CNIB clients from across Canada was undertaken using both the PLEXTALK Linio player and two players from HumanWare. The pilot spanned six months, ending with a detailed exit survey. The following are some of the comments we received from testers:

"It is very convenient and it is much easier to return (books) as soon as I am finished reading them so that I can get new ones." – Female client, 25, northern Ontario

"… With the new player you only have to wait an hour to get a book whereas with the (CD system) you had to wait for Canada Post to deliver the book, and I can use a USB stick which is (also) convenient for internet research." – Female client, 36, Toronto

"Downloading (is) so convenient; nice to be able to do this without computer." – Male client, 65, Southern Ontario

"Nice because I don't have a computer, so I feel like I'm not 'left out'." – Male client, 64, Alberta

How it works

CNIB Direct-to-Player Logo When a client signs up for this service, a virtual bookshelf with space for 12 books is created uniquely for them. There are three ways to get books onto the virtual bookshelf. Clients may 'self-serve' through the Library's website (or have a designate do it for them,) ask for the assistance of a CNIB reader adviser to select books, or have the ILS system auto-select the books. This system selection is based on an e-profile of the client's specified preferences as to the type of book genre and authors to include or exclude, their unique reading history, plus other attributes such as the gender of narrator or the presence for or avoidance of strong language or violence. The ILS then selects the chosen books from the digital repository and places them onto the virtual shelf. Currently, we provide up to 3 books a night/5 nights a week.

The Internet-enabled player, when powered up, connects to the Internet and begins to synchronize the physical bookshelf of the player with the virtual bookshelf. If the client does not like a particular book, they simply 'return' it knowing a new one will replace it in the morning.

For more information about the 'Direct to Player' service at CNIB, please contact Roger Beatty, Director Library IS, at +416-486-2500 or roger[dot]beatty(at)cnib.ca.

"Your Voice, Their World": Accessible Digital Library Project in India

NAB Logo OMRON Group in India, (part of Omron Japan) in association with the National Association for the Blind (NAB), Delhi has launched "Your Voice, Their World". The goal of this project is to create India's largest Accessible Digital Library for students who have a visual disability. In addition the project will strive to extend support to strengthen 'accessible content', infrastructure and the right technology so that more and more students who are blind will be able to fulfill their dreams of both basic and advanced education.

Farhan Akhtar, a renowned Bollywood actor and OMRON's brand ambassador, attended the launch which took place at NAB in Delhi. Akhtar is also an Indian film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, playback singer, lyricist and television host. The talking books produced through this project will each have a prelude in Farhan's voice. His endorsement of "Your Voice, Their World" has brought a great deal of publicity and media coverage to the launch and should continue to draw a considerable attention to the project and the need for accessible reading material. The talking books produced through this project will each have a prelude in Farhan's voice; the books will be produced in DAISY format.

"Less than 1% of the printed books are available to the blind students in accessible formats in India which has the largest population of blind in the world. Being a technology leader, Omron understands how powerful role technology can play in bridging this digital divide. With the seasoned expertise and widespread network of National Association for the Blind, Delhi, the project aspires to be India's largest Accessible Digital Library in terms of accessible content and number of beneficiaries. The first phase of the project shall produce 2000 hours of recording by December, 2014." [Mr. Takuichi Shimizu, President, Omron Management Centre of India, who was present at the launch]

Mr. Prashant Ranjan Verma, Joint Secretary of NAB, Delhi, who also attended the launch stated:

"NAB Delhi is a part of the largest network of voluntary organizations serving the blind persons in India. It was the first organization to start production of Digital Talking Books in India & South Asia in 2003. We have been making few DAISY books with our limited infrastructure. Now, with support from Omron, we shall be able to take this pioneering initiative to the next level by producing more books and to fulfill education needs of a large number of visually impaired students."

OMRON Japan is a global leader in automation technology. OMRON's Corporate Principles are summarized on the company website: "OMRON's principles of pursuing its responsibilities and reason for being based on the belief that a corporation is a public institution that should work for the benefit of society."

NAB is a member of DAISY Forum of India. Additional information including the specific highlights of the project is provided on the Business Wire India Press Release, December 17

Sources

AVH TTS Audio Books: A Success Story

The AVH Text-to-Speech success story is relayed on the Acapela Group article Audio books read by Text To Speech: a success story told by the AVH, with figures & user testimonies. More than 90% of the books borrowed from L'Association Valentin Haüy (AVH) last year were audio books narrated with human voice. Of approximately 60,000 new novels available each year in bookstores in France, 1,000, a small percentage of the titles published, are added to the AVH collection. This was not meeting the reading needs and wants of AVH users.

Éole logo Éole is the AVH digital library. It is available at no cost to people who cannot read printed books because of visual difficulties, mental disability or a physical handicap. However something changed in July this year – they are able to produce a much greater number of books, in fact during the new book season and the Fall French literary prizes, the audio versions of over 50 newly printed books were produced in a first wave. How have they done it? The books are read with Alice's voice – one of the Acapela Group synthetic speech voices. Since the launch the most frequently downloaded titles from Éole have been audio produced with Text-To-Speech. Twenty-four of the top fifty most frequently downloaded books were 'read' by Alice.

Acapela Group logo It was not known how well the AVH users would respond to Alice's 'voice', but the satisfaction survey results presented in the AVH Success Story are a clear indication that they are more than happy to accept the change. There are many testimonials in the article on the Acapela site. Here are just a few:

"I am 75 years old and I never thought I would be able to read the latest best sellers at the same time as people who can see. What a revolution!"
"I naively thought that Alice was a real person and asked myself how she could read so many books!"
"I was pleasantly surprised by the speed with which we can access the latest new books and I am aware that only a synthetic voice can offer us this service – so well done."

AVH is a member of DAISY France which is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium. Acapela Group, the creator of "Alice" and many other products and services, is a Friend of the Consortium.

In Belgium, All Flemish Newspapers Now 'Talk'

Pyxima Logo On December 10 Kamelego launched the "AudioKrant" which is a talking newspaper service featuring all Flemish newspapers. Pyxima Social Care Software provides the innovative software to create and distribute these talking newspapers. Joke Schauvliege, the Flemish Minister of Culture, kicked off the new service which is available for all persons with a reading disability.

The first full length talking newspaper produced with synthetic speech and distributed on CD was launched by Kamelego in 2008. Innovative improvements such Internet distribution and 'personalised' news have been added for the two newspapers, De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad, available since the initial launch.

With this recent launch the DAISY talking newspaper service has been expanded to include all Flemish newspapers, including De Morgen, Het Laatste Nieuws, De Tijd, Het Belang Van Limburg and Gazet Van Antwerpen. AudioKrant includes the full-text and audio of the complete newspapers, giving readers the opportunity to choose what to read, where and when to read it, at their own pace.

Pyxima is a Friend of the DAISY Consortium. Another major project in which Pyxima has been directly involved is a branded version of the Online DAISY app developed by Pyxima and its partner Sensotec. The Swedish audio book publisher Inläsningstjänst launched its DAISY app for online audio book reading in late October. The app provides students who have a visual disability with better access to school books while using their smart phone or tablet.

Additional information on the AudioKrant launch is available (in Dutch) on the following websites:

Accessible! Access to Information as a Fundamental Right

Swedish DAISY Consortium Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Participants in the exhibit hall at the Swedish DAISY Consortium 10th Anniversary Conference It was November 1992 in Sweden that the concept of DAISY was born. In 1996 the DAISY Consortium was formed, and this year, the Swedish DAISY Consortium (SDK) which was founded in November 2003 reached its 10th anniversary. In order to celebrate, SDK together with the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM), invited members and other interested people to a conference in Stockholm held on November 28-29. (MTM was previously the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille, TPB.) Approximately 120 people from all over Sweden (and some from Denmark) gathered to share, learn and celebrate. The title of the conference was "Accessible! Access to Information as a Fundamental Right".

The Conference: Experience and Knowledge Shared

Day 1

It was most fitting that Kjell Hansson, a former Board Member of the DAISY Consortium and senior employee with MTM, gave the keynote presentation on the first day. He shared some of his experiences in the early, frustrating, development phase of DAISY and the founding of the DAISY Consortium in 1996. Kjell explained that it was a hard work, but in the end, he said, it has paid off.

The Nordic directors, Michael Wright of Nota in Denmark (and DAISY Board Member), and Roland Esaiasson of MTM, each spoke separately about challenges they have faced within their organizations and successes that have been achieved. In Denmark, they have successfully attracted new users. They are, on an ongoing basis, looking for more collaboration between institutions and businesses. Roland stated that in Sweden, the number of users downloading talking books without assistance has increased significantly.

MTM logoJenny Nilsson, children's librarian at MTM, talked about a study carried out by MTM, about children's use of talking books. Children in focus groups were interviewed and their answers were analyzed by Anna Hampson Lundh, PhD. Until this study very little had been done in the research field of children and talking books, which is why this study has a great value. The study Talking books and reading children: children describing their use of talking books was designed to investigate what children think about the design, range and provision of talking books from MTM and also deals with the way the children are received by the local library. It is available online in English. (Please note that the report takes a minute or more to open.)

Representing Bonniers, the Swedish publishing house, Magnus Nytell from the company's digital department, spoke about their experiences with eBooks. The volume of eBooks sold and lent from almost nothing in the beginning of 2010 to almost 60,000 per month in September 2013. Approximately 80% of this volume is eBooks borrowed from libraries. The publishing house is working with digitizing selected books from their back list.

The first day closed with Richard Orme who worked for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) RNIB in the UK for 23 years, most recently as Head of Accessibility. He spoke about the state of the eBook market in the UK today. The number of eBooks published and the number of accessible eBooks available today as well as the journey to get to this point were discussed. Richard's presentation How Accessible are Today's eBooks for Print Disabled People is available on YouTube. His sense of humour and knowledge of the state of accessible eBooks are evident.

Day 2

Stephen King giving the keynote speech at the Swedish DAISY Consortium 10th Anniversary Conference The keynote speaker on the second day was Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium. Stephen opened with congratulations to the audience and spoke of the origin of the concept of DAISY being in Sweden. His presentation Ending the Book Famine: How does the WIPO Treaty help was inspiring as he compared the availability of accessible information in developing and developed countries. Some of the efforts and campaigns, including of course the efforts of the WBU, were presented. Copyright was featured. Change, technology, publishing, WIPO, how eBooks are transforming access in the English language, "inclusive publishing" and other critical topics were covered.

In Sweden, there are approximately 160 newspapers available as talking newspapers. Jesper Klein gave a presentation about MTM's implementation of a new system to produce and distribute talking newspapers. The newspapers are digitized with synthetic speech and distributed by online players for talking newspapers. Jesper Klein is the Swedish DAISY Consortium representative on the DAISY Board of Directors.

Niclas Lindberg, Secretary General of the Swedish Library Association, gave a fiery speech about the new library law that will come into force on January 1, 2014 in Sweden. One of the paragraphs which deals with services to people who have a disability, as follows: The libraries in the public library system should pay special attention to people with disabilities, including the basis of their different needs and circumstances, offer literature and technical means to access information.

Metadata was the topic covered by Hannes Eder, co-founder of Publit, the "e-" and on-demand publisher. He spoke about the necessity of explicit metadata, and the importance of connecting metadata to content rather than just the "wrapping", thus differentiating user-friendly and truly accessible books from books that are just 'available'.

Follow-up

The conference was filmed and the presentations, including the three which are in English, are available on YouTube. The slides of Stephen King's presentation are posted on the DAISY Consortium's Slideshare page.

The General Annual Meeting of SDK took place following the conference. Among other matters and decisions made, Maria Lundqvist was re-elected as chair of SDK and Jesper Klein was re-elected as SDK's Board Member with the DAISY Consortium.

Credit

Thanks go to Maria Lundqvist, Chairman, Swedish DAISY Consortium, for providing the information which formed the basis of this article.

Slovenia Begins DAISY Production with 5 Day Training Course

'Project Library for the Blind and Partially Sighted, Slovenia' in collaboration with DAISY Consortium conducted a 5 day hands-on training program focused on the creation of DAISY digital talking books. The course took place in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, from November 26 to 30.

The Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted of Slovenia has been producing audio books in MP3 formats and braille books for many years. After joining the DAISY Consortium as an Associate Member, the Library launched a project to convert existing audio books to DAISY format and all new books will be produced in DAISY format.

Participants at the DAISY training course in Slovenia, 2013 The training course covered the use of the Obi, Tobi, 'Save As DAISY' and the DAISY Pipeline authoring and conversion tools. Mr. Prashant Ranjan Verma, a Consultant with the DAISY Consortium for training and technical support, conducted the training program which was attended by five participants from the Union of the Blind and Library for the Blind and Partially Sighted of Slovenia.

The DAISY Consortium provided the following software and training materials in digital format to each trainee. Note that most of these resources are free and open source, and developed by DAISY Consortium. In instances where commercial software was used, demonstration versions were provided:

  1. DAISY playback software (AMIS, TAB Player, EasyReader)
  2. DAISY production tools (Obi, Tobi, 'Save As DAISY' and DAISY Pipeline)
  3. Tutorials on each of the tools listed above
  4. Video tutorials
  5. Sample DAISY books
  6. Sample EPUB books
  7. EPUB reading software
  8. Practice material (to be used for practical exercises)

Each participant had brought a Windows-based laptop for the hands-on sessions. The first exercise in Obi and 'Save as DAISY' was done with an English language document. In subsequent exercises participants worked on conversion of Slovenian language documents to DAISY format.

The Outcome

All the participants successfully completed the training and are expected to have a good understanding of the concepts and have acquired the following skills:

  1. Ability to play different types of DAISY books on different type of players
  2. Ability to provide DAISY playback training to users
  3. Ability to produce DAISY books with human recorded audio and navigation (TOC)
  4. Ability to convert existing audio files into DAISY books
  5. Knowledge of conversion of text documents to DAISY books with synthetic speech
  6. Knowledge of creation of full-text books with images and human recorded audio
  7. Ability to read EPUB files
  8. Some exposure to conversion of DAISY books to EPUB

3 of the participants at work during the DAISY training course in Slovenia, 2013 On the final day of the training program Prashant facilitated a discussion on a suitable workflow for production of DAISY books in Slovenia. Based on the existing setup and workflow of the Library's studios, it was determined that the most feasible approach would be to record the books in the studios with their existing professional audio editing software. The DAISY books would be created as a post-production operation, with the audio recordings split into audio files, with an audio file for each section within the DAISY book. The audio files will be numbered and named as per the file naming convention recommended 'by' Obi. Subsequently the editors will import the audio files into Obi and finalize the DAISY books.

The five participants were each issued a certificate jointly by the host organization and the DAISY Consortium.

Credit

Thanks go to Prashant Verma for providing the report upon which this article is based.

Dear DAISY

I am visually impaired and am trying to read books on math and physics. Does DAISY offer any products that allow for text-to-speech regarding mathematical expressions? Ideally, I would like to be able to read scientific texts in DAISY format (as are provided, for example, by BookShare), but find it impossible with the current state of my book reader. Any help, pointers, or tips would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Roger B.,
USA

---------------------------

Dear Roger,

A software DAISY player available for both PC and the Mac that plays advanced math content is ReadHear™, ReadHear™ Mac and ReadHear™ PC Premium, developed by gh LLC. Math and science are their areas of expertise. A trial version is available for download from the gh, LLC website. There is also YouTube video demonstrating how ReadHear works. (In this video however, it does not read math.)

EasyReader, developed by Dolphin Computer Access Limited can render basic math. This software is available for purchase and download from the Dolphin website. (There is also a trial version.)

Design Science Inc., another DAISY Consortium Friend, has created a software tool called MathPlayer that may be helpful to you. [X]HTML web documents with math expressed as MathML can be 'read out loud' using MathPlayer's Internet Explorer plug-in. MathPlayer enhances MSHTML, Microsoft's internal HTML engine on which Internet Explorer is based. Mathematical equations are 'spoken' with a screen reader. English and several other languages are supported. More information about MathPlayer and MathML is available on the Design Science website. MathPlayer can be downloaded at no cost as part of Design Science efforts to foster the adoption of MathML in the math, science, and education communities.

There is also ChattyInfty which is actually a talking math editor that can also 'read formulas aloud'. More information is available on the InftyReader website. (The math fonts need to be installed in order for the math symbols to be 'read aloud').

As you expressed your interest in math and physics, the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator, a modified TI-84 Plus with a small attachment that adds accessibility and has additional controls may be of interest. APH (American Printing House for the Blind) partnered with Orbit Research® and Texas Instruments® to make this powerful calculator accessible. More information is available on the APH website.

You may also be interested in reading the Specification for the Digital Talking Book Modular Extension for Mathematics, available on the DAISY Consortium website. This document places DAISY Players into 3 categories as follows:
1. Players that do not comply with this specification. These players know nothing about MathML. They do not extract the alt-img and/or alt-text from a math tag nor do they apply a stylesheet to transform the math to an image group. These players are referred to as 'MathML-unaware' players.
2. Players that conform to this specification but cannot natively render the MathML. They fall back to using either the XSL transform or grab the alt-text or alt-img attributes from the math tag. These players are referred to as 'Basic MathML' players.
3. Players that natively support MathML. These players are referred to as 'Advanced MathML' players.

Hope this information is helpful.

Bits & Pieces

• A summary of and download link to the report Redefining the digital divide is posted on the Economist website. Strategies of Australia, France, India, Russia, the UK and the US and compared. "'For the first time in the history of ICT, companies are competing for accessibility in the mobile market, because accessibility features such as voice commands or text to speech, which are critical for persons with disabilities, also help all users interact with their devices…' says Axel Leblois, founder and executive director of G3ict–the Global Initiative for Inclusive Technologies, an advocacy initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, who has spent the last seven years helping governments and companies reach vulnerable populations, particularly those with disabilities and the elderly, through better design principles." [From the report Redefining the digital divide, the link to G3ict has been added].

• The Nominet Trust, a United Kingdom leading social tech funder has included Bookshare on its list of 100 global ventures using digital technology to solve some of the world's biggest social problems. Details and links are available in the December 17 Benetech Blog.

• Twelve videos about using the NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) BARD Mobile app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch have been posted to the Library of Congress YouTube channel. Topics include using the app for both braille and audio books. (BARD is an acronym for Braille and Audio Reading Download).

RNZFB (Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind) has rebranded and now has new name, "Blind Foundation" and a distinctive new logo. RNZFB, now Blind Foundation is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

• VoiceOver support has been added to Inkstone Mobile's Audiobooks HQ App which offers over 7,850 free, human-voice audiobooks, making these books available to and usable by people with a print disability. VoiceOver support is also being made available in Inkstone's other audiobook apps, including Audiobooks Free, Livres Audio (French audiobooks), and Audio Bibles, as well as in its eBook discovery apps eBook Search and eBook Search Pro. Audiobooks HQ 3.1 sells for $1.99 USD (or equivalent in other currencies) and is available worldwide through the App Store (in the Books category). Additional information, including device requirements and links is provided December 3 MacMegasite news post

• The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) will be launched in March 2014. "This new association will begin solving these challenges by creating a global community for people and organizations working in accessibility to share expertise and resources, support one another's work, and follow developments in this fast-changing field." An accessible website for the association and its members will be developed. Full details are available in the article Microsoft Will Help Launch a New Association for Accessibility Professionals by Rob Sinclair, Microsoft's Chief Accessibility Officer.

• The 8th European e-Accessibility Forum: User-driven e-Accessibility will take place at Cité des sciences et de l'industrie – Universcience, Paris on March 31, 2014. The Theme and First Speakers are provided on the Forum website. Online registration is now open.

• The preliminary Program Schedule for the 2014 M-Enabling Summit – Accessibility: A Driver for Mobile Innovation is now available on the Summit website. The 2014 Conference and Showcase will take place in Washington DC, June 9 - 10.

• College students who are legally blind and live in the United States or Puerto Rico are eligible for the NFB 2014 Scholarship Program. Thirty scholarships worth between $3,000 to $12,000 are awarded each year to high school seniors beginning their freshman year of college in the fall semester to graduate students working on their PhD degrees. In addition each winner will receive assistance to attend the July 2014 NFB National Convention in Orlando, Florida. These are merit scholarships based on academic excellence, community service, and leadership. Applications will be accepted from November 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. Complete rules and requirements are provided on the NFB 2014 Scholarship Program page.

• Although the article How to Digitize/Backup Cassette Tapes and Other Old Media is posted on the How-To Geek website, it contains information that may be of interest to those who are not necessarily 'geeky'.

• The December 12 issue of Top Tech Tidbits from Flying Blind, LLC includes 2 links with the best Windows and Mac tips, downloads, and guides for 2013 (according to LifeHacker) … lots of useful information at these links.

• The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) in the UK has a webpage for Talking Books gift subscriptions plus a 15% discount offered for selected DAISY players.

Tech Tips

• Version 1.7 of DAISY Pipeline 2 was made available for download earlier this week. Although this release does not introduce new scripts it does bring many bug fixes and improvements to previous scripts. It also introduces changes to the Web API. Details are provided in the release notes. The DAISY Pipeline 2 project has been migrated to and is now hosted on GitHub. The following alternative packages are available (each of these links will download the selected option):

° for Windows users, an installer for the Desktop Web UI distribution (.exe installer, 80 MB)
° recommended on OS X and Linux, the Desktop Web UI Distribution packaged as a ZIP (ZIP, 80 MB)
° the CLI distribution: includes the command line tool and all the conversion scripts (ZIP, 40 MB)
° the Server Web UI Distribution (ZIP, 40 MB) includes a version of the Pipeline 2 Web User Interface for installation on a server. It does not include the Pipeline 2 engine and conversion scripts

Detailed instructions to launch the Web UI application locally are provided. The development team welcomes feedback which can be submitted on the DAISY Pipeline 2 Forum.

• From How-To Geek this month:
° How to Share Files Between Windows and Linux
° How to Run a Last Pass Security Audit (and Why It Can't Wait) explains how to audit your passwords and protect yourself, and more
° 8 Navigation Tricks Every iPad User Needs to Know
° Use Voice Dictation to Save Time on Android, iPhone, and iPad (includes voice dictation commands for punctuation and other symbols)
° How to Get Started With Speech Recognition on Windows 7 or 8